Marsha Chartrand

“The March Hare” makes June debut in Manchester

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Sandra's welcoming smile adds to The March Hare's warm, inviting ambiance.

Sandra’s welcoming smile adds to The March Hare’s warm, inviting ambiance.

After working retail jobs for years, homeschooling their two children, and acting as primary caregiver for her grandmother, having a retail store of her own has been a long-time dream for Sandra and her husband Barry. Three weeks ago, that dream came true with the opening of The March Hare, a unique gift shop located at 231 E. Main Street, between Marti’s Salon and Healthy Smiles dental office.

The couple had been looking for a location to buy and make Sandra’s dream a reality. However, while traveling between their home in the Irish Hills and their daughter’s home in Grass Lake, they kept seeing the For Rent sign in the store window here in Manchester, and finally decided to call owners John and Karen Hinkley.

“I had already decided on the name for my store,” Sandra explains. “I’m a huge reader and I love the story of Alice in Wonderland. The March Hare, you know, hosted the tea party for the Mad Hatter … and I am a little crazy … so it seemed to fit. And then, we signed our lease on March 1, so it all kind of came together.”

The transformation from the former Chris Roberts-Antieau art studio to a retail shop took some time, imagination, and hard work, and the store finally opened on June 11. An eclectic collection of gifts, both new and vintage, is designed to “make people happy,” Sandra says. “I seem to have a unique gift for finding treasures,” she adds. “I am kind of conservative in my personal style, but this is a way I can branch out; and I like to help others step out of their box, too.” With convenient hours–11am to 7pm Tuesday through Saturday, with occasional additional hours–Sandra and Barry are a welcome addition to the downtown Manchester landscape.

“We really like Manchester,” Sandra says. “I’ve had an average of 50-55 people stop by every day since we’ve been open, and a lot of people are coming back once they see what we have to offer. I’m already feeling at home here; I’ve met so many people and they have been so welcoming. As a reader and a writer, I love stories … and I’m already getting drawn into the stories of my customers.”

The collection changes frequently as Sandra continually finds those distinctive treasures, but a sampling of the store’s offerings last week includes French soaps, 1803 Candles, art work, jewelry, books, vintage furnishings and clothing, and their newest product, whole bean coffee also from the 1803 line. She also plans to add select items from local artisans, and started out with several pieces of Dee Miles’ jewelry.

Describing herself as a “one-on-one” person, Sandra enjoys the opportunity to get acquainted with each of her customers individually. She’d also like to get to know her vendors personally, and will set up appointments with local artisans to purchase items that she can add to her stock. Potential vendors may call the store at 212-3224 to set up a private appointment.

“People have so many talents and I’m eager to help them share those talents with the community,” she says. “I am very thankful for the support I’ve received so far. I’d really like to be able to stay, and I hope I will be successful enough to continue to grow here.”

Stop in to The March Hare and find a unique gift to make someone’s life a little more beautiful–maybe even your own!

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Sandra has recently added larger sizes of clothing in response to customer demand.

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Beautiful and fun displays make shopping at The March Hare a pleasant experience.

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A small selection of the varied children’s items that are available.

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“Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance.”

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In view of the Main Street-M-52 corner, The March Hare is a lovely and quaint gift shop with new items arriving weekly!

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